|Publication number||US7209176 B2|
|Application number||US 10/782,034|
|Publication date||Apr 24, 2007|
|Filing date||Feb 19, 2004|
|Priority date||Feb 19, 2004|
|Also published as||US20050185089|
|Publication number||10782034, 782034, US 7209176 B2, US 7209176B2, US-B2-7209176, US7209176 B2, US7209176B2|
|Inventors||Leonard T. Chapman|
|Original Assignee||Chapman/Leonard Studio Equipment|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (26), Non-Patent Citations (8), Referenced by (20), Classifications (25), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
In motion picture, television, or video filming or recording, the camera is often supported on a vehicle, to follow an action or moving sequence, to achieve a desired camera angle or effect, or to film occupants in or on a vehicle. Various specialized camera cranes, dollys, and other mobile platforms have been used for this purpose.
Over the last several years, remote camera heads have increasingly been used. A remote camera head is an apparatus that allows the camera to be moved, aimed, or controlled from a remote location (i.e., a location not immediately behind the camera). Typically, a remote camera head is mounted on a crane arm. The crane arm can move the camera head, and the camera on the head, into locations not accessible using conventional camera operations (i.e., with a camera operator behind the camera and controlling camera movement by hand). For example, a camera on a camera head may be suspended on a crane arm extending out over the side of a tall building, a cliff, a waterfall, etc., i.e., in a position where it would be unsafe, impractical, or impossible to perform conventional camera operations.
In general, remote camera head operations involve placing the camera on a remote camera head which can perform pivoting or rotational movement in three axes, known as pan, tilt, and roll or dutch. Electric motors on or in the remote camera head are remotely controlled (via cables or wireless links) by a camera head operator, typically on the ground, or on the vehicle supporting the crane arm. Operation of the camera itself is similarly remotely controlled.
While camera heads have been successfully used in the past, several disadvantages remain. As camera heads generally have various electrical and electronic components (motors, sensors, etc.), they are typically limited to use only in clean and dry conditions. Adverse environmental conditions, such as rain, snow, dust, sand, etc., can often cause degraded performance or failures with camera heads. Accordingly, there is a need for a rugged camera head providing reliable performance in all weather conditions.
Many camera heads are relatively difficult and time consuming to set up, balance, operate, or reconfigure. Since production time can be extremely expensive, even short delays associated with use of a camera head can be disadvantageous. Consequently, there is a need for a camera head which can be quickly and easily transported, installed, and made ready for use.
Many camera heads are set up for remote control using motors which drive or move components of the camera head. However, to preview lens angles, or for other reasons, a camera operator may want to manually position the camera. This typically requires that the motors be disconnected or disengaged, to allow the camera head to be easily moved by hand. Unfortunately, with many camera heads, this disengagement for hand movement, can be time consuming and difficult. Similarly, re-engaging or reconnecting the motors for electrical movement of the camera head, can also be time consuming.
Accordingly, various engineering challenges remain in designing an improved camera head.
After extensive research and development, the various engineering challenges described above associated with camera heads have now been overcome in a new system providing significantly improved performance and advantages. These advantages include all weather operation, submerged operation, rapid set-up and adjustment, wide ranging adaptability for handling cameras of various shapes, sizes, and weight, and improved performance features and characteristics.
In a first aspect, a camera support or camera head has a pan frame, a tilt frame securable onto the pan frame at multiple positions on the pan frame, and a tilt frame securable onto the pan frame at multiple positions on the pan frame. A quick release lever is advantageously used to secure the frames at desired positions, to configure the camera head as desired.
In a second aspect the pan frame includes a pan housing, a pan arm rotatably attached to the pan housing and a pan motor for moving the pan arm relative to the pan housing. The tilt frame includes a tilt housing, a tilt arm rotatably attached to the tilt housing and a tilt motor for moving the tilt arm relative to the tilt housing. The tilt frame is securable onto the pan arm at multiple positions along the pan arm. In an additional aspect of the invention, a roll frame is also included, having a roll housing and a camera platform rotatably attached to the roll housing, and a roll motor for moving the camera platform relative to the roll housing. In this design, the roll frame is also securable onto the tilt arm at multiple positions along the tilt arm. Since the frames or arms can be quickly moved into a desired position, and then securely locked into place, via a cam lever or other locking device, the camera head can be quickly and easily configured to carry a wide range of cameras and/or related equipment.
In a third aspect of the invention, a camera head includes a slip ring assembly for each axis of rotation, and with water proof cable segments extending between the slip ring assemblies. Electrical connections are made water proof or resistant. Bearings within the camera head are sealed. This allows the camera head to be used in the rain, or even underwater, without loss of performance.
In a fourth aspect of the invention, a pan or first shaft is rotatably supported within a pan or first housing. A tilt or second frame is attached to the first shaft, and the first shaft is sealed against the first housing. A first gear is linked to the first shaft through a first clutch. The first gear is linked to the first motor. At least one clutch operation lever on the housing is moveable from a first position, wherein the lever engages the first clutch to allow the first motor to drive the first shaft, to a second position, wherein the lever disengages the first clutch, allowing the first shaft to rotate free of the motor. This allows for quickly switching the camera head over between, automatic operation (via the motors), to manual operation (i.e., positioning the camera by hand). In addition, since the motors are de-coupled during manual operation, only low force is needed to move the frames. This makes precise camera positioning easier and faster.
The invention resides as well in subcombinations of the elements described.
In the drawings, wherein the same element number indicates the same element in each of the views:
Turning now in detail to the drawings, as shown in
Referring to FIGS. 3—5 and 22, a pan arm 96 is rotatably attached to the pan housing 80 via a sealed bearing 92. The pan arm 96 rotatably seals against the pan housing 80 via an O-ring seal 94. Referring to
Referring momentarily to
As shown in
Referring still to
On the other hand, for handling large cameras, the head 50 can be expanded, as shown in
Referring now to
As shown in
Referring back to
Generally, the pan, tilt and roll housings have similar or identical components, and they operate the same way.
Referring still to
To allow for quicker set up or configuration changeover, three pairs of waterproof connectors are provided. A first pair of connectors 252 is mounted on the pan frame 70, a second pair 254 is mounted on the tilt frame 72, and a third pair 256, as shown in
A second end cover 284, having second and third hose filtings 280 and 283 is similarly attached to the end of the male housing 286. End covers 290 and 284 are secured over and around the hose filtings. A bracket 288 attached to the male housing 278 allows the connector pair to be easily attached to a flat surface on the pan, tilt, or roll frames. O-rings 292 and 296, and a packing 298, seal the hose fittings 282, 283, and 280 to the male and female housings 286 and 270. An O-ring 294 seals male half-coupling 278 to the male housing 286. This design as shown in
Accordingly, new and dramatic camera movements, not previously readily achievable, can now be performed. For example, using the crane arm 40 and the head 50, the camera 60 can follow an action sequence beginning on land, and then moving, without interruption, into an underwater environment, such as a swimming pool, lake, etc. In addition, the head 50 can be used in wet or rainy environments, without taking protective steps, such as draping or wrapping, since the head 50 is largely impervious to water.
As shown in
By purging the interior spaces with dry nitrogen gas, the need for painting, plating, or otherwise finishing the internal surfaces of the head 50 is avoided, and internal corrosion is reduced or eliminated. As the head 50 is modular and has no covers, it can be quickly and easily serviced.
As shown in
While the drawings show a three axis camera head, the same designs described above may also be used in a two axis camera head. In the two axis design, the tilt arm assembly 153 is removed and the camera platform 200 is attached directly to the tilt shaft 132.
In use, the head 50 is mounted on a camera crane 40 or other support such as a vehicle, overhead cable trolley, etc. The overall size or envelope of the camera head 50 is adjusted, as desired, to meet the clearance space requirements of the camera and camera accessories by releasing the cam locks 220, appropriately positioning the tilt assembly 72 and the roll assembly 74, and then engaging or locking the cam locks 220. The camera is mounted onto the camera platform 200. Appropriate electrical connections are made via the connector pairs 252, 254, and 256 through the slip ring assemblies 88, 138, and 168. The camera head 50 is then balanced, using known techniques. For example, movement about the pan and tilt axes is locked out by engaging the stop pins 90 and 140. The camera is then balanced about the roll axis R. Next, rotational movement about the pan and roll axes is locked out via the locking or stop pins 90 shown in
The camera head 50 provides several advantages. It can be used underwater, or in wet environments, since all bearings, motors, and electrical components and fittings are waterproof or sealed. Movement of the camera head 50 in three axes can be remotely controlled via electrical signals to the motors. Alternatively, the motors and gears can be quickly disengaged from the frames via the cam levers 98, for manual or hand control or positioning of camera movement about any of the pan, tilt, or roll axes. Even without disengaging the motors, the frames can be forcibly moved manually, as the gears 84, 134 and 164 can back drive the worm gear 110, before the clutch 102 slips, if sufficient force is applied.
The camera head 50 is also compact and lightweight. Accordingly, it can be used in confined spaces. It can also be mounted on smaller and lower load carrying capacity crane arms. As a result, filming shots or sequences can be achieved with overall more compact, lightweight, and more maneuverable and transportable equipment. The camera head 50 is also highly reliable, as it has a simplified design (in contrast to other camera heads) and it is largely sealed against water, dust, dirt, etc. The camera head 50 is also highly adaptable and can be set up to hold cameras and accessories ranging from small compact digital video cameras, to large conventional film cameras, along with associated lenses, film magazines, batteries, and other camera accessories.
Thus, a novel camera head has been shown and described. Various substitutions and use of equivalents may of course be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. The invention, therefore, should not be limited, except to the following claims, and their equivalents.
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|U.S. Classification||348/373, 348/375, 396/428, 248/292.12, 248/187.1|
|International Classification||F16M11/12, G03B17/00, H04N5/225, F16M11/04, E04G5/00, F16M11/18, F16M11/42|
|Cooperative Classification||F16M11/28, F16M2200/065, F16M11/42, F16M11/2064, F16M11/10, F16M11/18|
|European Classification||F16M11/10, F16M11/20A3C, F16M11/28, F16M11/12, F16M11/04, F16M11/18, F16M11/42|
|Feb 19, 2004||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: CHAPMAN/LEONARD STUDIO EQUIPMENT, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:CHAPMAN, LEONARD T.;REEL/FRAME:015011/0822
Effective date: 20040213
|Sep 22, 2010||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Sep 25, 2014||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8